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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Thursday, August 18, 2005

entry arrow10:54 PM | Fantasy, Magic, and Writing Fever

From the hundred interesting comments on the supposed metaphors of fantasy in Making Light, I get this from reader Mary Dell:

In magic realism, the Angel* who falls to earth and is kept in the chicken shed by the callous humans is a symbol, and the point of the story is that (in my reading, anyway) (1) humans suck and (2) we no longer are impressed or inspired by miracles. The business of magic realism is to take extraordinary creatures or events and drag them into the harsh light of the ordinary world, so that reality may be examined with the aid of these particular symbols.

The business of fantasy, on the other hand, is to take ordinary personalities and events and place them in an extraordinary world. Readers who are accustomed to magic realism will recognize their favorite symbols, and be confused by any story which uses those elements in a literal way. But, you know, too bad for them; we got here first.
Of course, there are the other commenters who either agree or disagree, but it's basically a gamut of intelligent opinions on the literariness of fantasy and science fiction.

Interesting, no?

[via banzai cat]


But I've been fascinated with fantasy and science fiction lately. (I spent my birthday yesterday writing a story.) I only had to read an excerpt from Dean Alfar's Palanca Prize-winning novel Salamanca, and was completely bowled over by his credible use of magic realism -- and I knew that one didn't have to bend over and shamelessly copy the Latin Americans to use magic realism, and still remain distinctly Filipino. (Although some critics make a point of citing Wilfrido Nolledo's But For the Lovers; one American reviewer has even pointed out that that novel antedated Latin American magic realism by a good number of years.) I've always been haunted by the resonance of Arthur C. Clarke's The Star and the creepy surprise of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.

From these old and new influences, I managed to churn out that CANVAS children's story about a rocking horse and a bald violin player, and a future fiction piece ("The Pepe Report") for Dean's fantasy and science fiction anthology -- a piece where they clone Rizal to test his alleged homosexuality, only to be surprised that the petite hero was actually a ... Well, you have to buy the forthcoming book to find out, yeah? There's also the piece ("A Tragedy of Chickens") I managed to write in about two (or three) days for Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's food fiction anthology, which is a merry mix of slapstick and magic realism, courtesy of chicken inato and the disappearing chickens of a small Negros town. (This is only the second time since the writing of "Old Movies" three years ago that I'd constantly laugh out loud in the middle of writing the story.) Now, I'm flexing my writing muscles again for Danton Remoto's anthology of ghost stories. The deadline is still next month, but something's churning in my mind right now. I'm calling the story "The Good Daughter," and hope that it isn't any cheap retread of one's conventional Gothic piece.

What's with the energy to write so many stories within the year ba, when I used to average only two a year? Blame the resurgence of fantasy in the popular culture landscape (from Harry Potter to the Lord of the Rings movies to local TV's Encantadia). Blame Ma'am Chari Lucero's call from way back in Iligan in 2002 to explore our own fascinating mythology. Blame Kit Kwe's infectious writing bug. But I really took someone's advice in his blog: if you want to be assured you're worth your salt as a fictionist, you have to get up from the couch, turn off that blasted television, sit down in front of your computer, and pound those keys, dammit. And start joining contests, too; no matter if you win or lose really. It's a good thing to compete. The Palanca's over for this year, so why don't you start with this one?

*a reference to Gabriel Garcia Marquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings.


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